Sunday, December 4, 2022
Dec. 4, 2022

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Estrich: Trump campaign good news for Democrats

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A mere mortal would hang his head in shame. It should be lost on no one that this is the third election cycle — 2018, 2020 and now 2022 — that Democrats have won by running against Donald Trump. Some people would just give up. Trump announced instead, assuring everyone yet one more election cycle to be dominated by the one man almost any decent Democratic candidate can beat.

Crazy he is, but in this instance, as in so many others, crazy like a fox. Because of all the processes he could be involved in, nothing suits Trump like the process we have for nominating presidential candidates. It’s a popularity contest, yes, but one conducted largely by a host of true believers and hardcore ideologues, on both sides, exactly the opposite of the swing voters who decide general elections.

The rules were written to serve many goals — party building and ideological purity among them — but as head scratchers point out every four years, seeing who will turn out for caucuses in Iowa on a cold snowy night to listen to speeches is not always the best guide to who can win a general election. But that’s how we do it. Then we go to New Hampshire.

Donald Trump will be the 800-pound gorilla in the race. He will be expected to win everywhere, and with enough candidates in the field, he might. Even if he doesn’t, he’ll no doubt claim he did. And that is literally years from now. Until then, he will dominate the Republican Party in ways that can only work to the advantage of Democrats. That’s how it is with Trump. Why run against anyone else when every Democrat on every issue now has permission and license to run against Trump? Maybe he’ll even get his Twitter account back.

How much room Trump will leave in the race for other Republicans to get attention remains to be seen. That’s the problem with 800-pound gorillas.

For now, Gov. Ron DeSantis wins just by not paying attention to his most famous constituent. It must drive Trump crazy that his rival gets points for what he doesn’t do, while Trump is out there working the crowd, relitigating a losing case. Ignoring Trump may prove to be DeSantis’ secret weapon since nothing can make Trump crazier. And the more Trump attacks him, the bigger DeSantis gets. The challenge for the other contenders will be to find some space somewhere to stand.

The media feeds on Trump. Democrats won’t ignore him, nor will various prosecutors and Senate committees, if not the House. There are those pesky investigations that won’t go away. Every picture of Mar-a-Lago brings back memories of federal agents and boxes of documents. This is where he announced. Symbolism means nothing to this man.

Of course, running in a multi-candidate field isn’t near as much fun as being the president. Some former presidents might find the idea of being back in the brawl with the peanut gallery to be a step back, or a step down, but in Trump’s case, so long as the step leads to a microphone and a crowd, he’ll be happy enough.

A man who announces a week after such a disappointing election is a man who has no shame at all. And no allegiance to others in his party, for goodness’ sake. Republicans need Trump sucking all the oxygen out of the room like they need a rerun of the Trump presidency, which is what he offered the crowd on Tuesday.

And then there’s Kevin McCarthy who, having barely enough votes to be elected speaker, is expected to kowtow even more to the Trumpers on the right, even though that’s precisely whose politics were rejected by voters on Nov. 8. And now he’s supposed to swallow even more poison.

Pull up a chair for this one. A civil war inside the Republican Party is a recipe for another Trump defeat, one way or the other.

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